Thursday, April 08, 2010

Hoppy Spring

When I started brewing beer (way back in 2009) ... I did not consider myself a "hop head".  I never really cared for really hoppy beers.  I never ordered IPA's.  I stayed away from APA's whenever possible.  Anything that was considered dominated by hop flavors would usually not be something I asked for.  My preferences were clearly with balanced or malty beers. 

Somewhere along the way, I have discovered that I really like what higher amounts of hops bring to a beer.  I started to see that malts really need some hop bitterness to balance the beer out.  I think the first beer where I really started realizing that I needed to start paying attention to balancing out my recipes was my first attempt at Dragon Spit.  My notes mentioned that the beer would be better if I basically took the hops from Northern Amber with what I had done with Dragon Spit.  On my second batch, I thought I had overdone the hops until I tasted the beer, when I realized that it was better than I had imagined it could be.

After that, I made a real effort to make sure my Bitterness to Gravity ratio was at least .50.  I still thought I preferred balanced beers, so the closer I got to .5, the better.

But lately, I've started moving toward IPA hoppy.  My Tweedle Beetle Stout is .976 on the BU:GU scale.  My Quarter Life Crisis was "only" at .785, but significantly "dry hopped" to add an intense hoppy taste and aroma.  And my Stone Soup IDA has a high .976 ratio plus is dry hopped even more than the QLC, which gives it a double IPA taste in a black beer.  And, I think at the moment, these are my favorite beers.  I mixed up my second batch of Tommy Hawk APA on Saturday, and at the last minute added more hops than I had planned to.  My initial reaction to my Brother Bear Bock was "wow ... that could really use some hops" even though we all know dopple bocks are purposely low on the BU:GU scale.
I might as well admit it:  I am a "hop head".  I am not sure when this occurred.  I think maybe I always was one, just didn't realize it until I could start exploring beer flavors in my own recipes.  I like how hop bitterness balances out malty sweetness in a beer, and I really like the intense hoppy taste that dry hopping adds.

The beer model is not a "hop head".  I do not think she will ever be a "hop head".  She is already prejudiced against anything darker than Phat & Tyred despite my attempts to explain to her that "dark" is not really a flavor.  I think eventually I can convince her that "dark" beers can be ok.  But, I do not think I'll be able to alter her tastes to prefer my Stone Soup or even my Tommy Hawk.  She will probably never even be a fan of my Dragon Spit even if I can nudge her towards appreciating some "darkness".

That is ok.  In fact, it is probably good, because it means I'll continue to brew beers lighter in color and lighter on hops.  Most (all?) non-beer drinkers ... those who claim to like Coors Light, Bud, Rolling Rock, etc... will prefer those beers over my intensely hoppy, highly flavorful beers.  And, if I am going to have beers on hand that appeal to guests, the fact that my wife forces me to brew some of those beers means I am more likely to have beers that appeal to everyone, not just "hop heads" like me.

Of course, ideally, everyone would like what I like so I can just brew the good stuff.  But, quite frankly, that is not going to happen.

Hoppy Spring, everyone.

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